prayer breakfast

A Tale of Two Prayer Breakfasts

This morning, I attended an interfaith breakfast for the National Day of Prayer where Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti quoted the prophet Isaiah:

The Lord rises to argue his case;
he stands to judge the peoples.
The Lord enters into judgement
with the elders and princes of his people:
It is you who have devoured the vineyard;
the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
What do you mean by crushing my people,
by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts. (Isaiah 3:13-15)

He then called us to join together to provide affordable housing for every Angelino. And these were not just words but specific proposals for faith communities to help end homelessness in our community. He called us not only to be people of sacred resistance to injustice but together actively to press onward for justice and equity for all God’s children.

Mr. Mayor, you can count on All Saints Church to answer this call.

It was as we were sitting listening to our mayor’s words that news of another National Day of Prayer gathering – this one at the White House – started buzzing on our phones.

I am struck by the deep contrast between these events: Mayor Garcetti’s call to heed the words of Isaiah and President Trump and his gathering and the U.S. House of Representatives move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which essentially do the opposite – promote the interests of those sitting on thrones and further crush the powerless and grind the face of the poor.

President Trump said this health care plan is a great plan. It is not – not for those among us who are most vulnerable. Over the next 10 years it would leave 24 million more people uninsured, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of an earlier version of the bill, while removing guaranteed protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

What do you mean by crushing my people,
by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts.

President Trump said his executive order was about religious liberty. It is not. Saying this is about religious liberty is an affront to people around the globe whose lives are truly at risk because of their faith. It cheapens their sacrifice and blasphemes their faith.

We have religious liberty in America – ensured by the establishment clause that says no one religion’s beliefs shall be established as law by the state. This is not about religious liberty or freedom of speech. As a U.S. citizen and a priest, I have always been free to say whatever I want (and usually do!). As a citizen, I have always been free to endorse a candidate – I just can’t do it from the pulpit of or using the resources of an institution that is receiving a tax benefit from the U.S. Government – nor should I be able to.

President Trump did say something that I applaud. Something we at All Saints will remember. The president said:

“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”

I applaud the president’s conviction. And we will remember it.

We will remember it the next time people of faith are tear gassed, rubber bulleted and arrested for standing in the streets with young black and brown people exercising their first amendment rights and fighting for their liberation.

We will remember that the next time this president’s policies target followers of Islam or other non-Christian faiths.

We will remember that the next time acts of Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism go uncommented on and are met with silence by this administration.

We will remember that, and we will hold him to his word.

Mike Kinman is the Rector of All Saints Church. For more information about All Saints, visit our website or call 626.796.1172

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